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Scuttlebutt News:
Keiler Woche 2007
by Rick Peters

(June 25, 2007) As expected when sailing Kiel Week, a variety of conditions were encountered by the sailors this year, although lighter winds prevailed for the Olympic Classes portion of the regatta. Usually run after the International classes, thatís any one-design from an Optimist to an X-35 and everything in between, they sailed the Olympic classes first this year to make the tight logistics easier for sailors going to Portugal for the ISAF Worlds afterwards.

If you have never been here, it is much more than a multi-class sailing event. It is a sailing celebration, this year being the 125 anniversary of the event. They have a carnival type set-up in downtown Kiel with food, rides and of course, lots of beer gardens! There are nightly concerts on 5 stages with live music for every taste, including some of Germanyís most popular acts. Tall ships and dinner cruise boats are berthed along the waterfront at night. BMW has a spectacular promotional set-up around a large water fountain where they match race 22í sport boats outfitted with shallow draft keels on a 100-meter windward leeward course!

The regatta is run out of the Olympic Center, a marine facility purpose built for the í72 games. This is a few miles out of town, on the north side of the canal entrance. It is very impressive with sponsor flags and signs everywhere. It is a bit of a cross between a boat show and a carnival. Tourists walk throughout the area intently watching the activities of the alien like sailors. I have never seen so many people interested in the activity at a launching ramp or hoist before! There are even autograph hounds, they seem to pick sailors at random or just because they are from a far away place.

A large tent is set-up in the middle of the fairway where they do everything from registration to weather briefings, daily television newscasts, and award ceremonies to a nightly raging party for the hardcore sailors! There are many shops; some temporary and others are year round including a sail loft. My skipper pointed out that he had never seen so much foul weather gear and yachting attire for sale in one place. Restaurants, food stands, and the ever-present beer stands abound. There is also a regatta technical bureau; this is where it is all organized from. A large press center is housed next door. Four yacht clubs join together to take care of the race committee work. BMW provides a bunch of vehicles to move trailers and sailing equipment around, and are more than happy to fulfill most requests (though my inquiry on taking it for a speed test on the autobahn was denied).

The sponsorship at Kiel Week is outstanding; they must have an extremely large budget to provide all these services and infrastructure. They even boast an on the water repair service. It is the only one like it in the world. They have three large RIBís patrolling the racing area, staffed by master riggers, sail makers, and boat builders. They have the tools, supplies, hardware, and know-how to get you back into action quickly should you have a breakdown or collision. This service is provided free of charge to all sailors; you even get to keep very nice carbon tiller extension should you happen to break one!

The racing was good this year although we lost a day for lack of wind; there were also postponements at the dock. The race committee did an outstanding job in trying conditions, and did not waste a lot of time in making the correct decisions. I thought there was marginal signaling in the first race when they shortened course, and in the medal race there were too many boats around the racing area making for choppy conditions. They were holding it close to shore, but probably too close to the harbor entrance, so it could be seen by spectators. When we crossed the finish line first in that race, I did not hear any applause!

Kiel Week is fantastic event, even gazing across the bay at all the sailboats and Tall Ships sailing together is quite spectacular in itself. Year after year regulars camp in tents on wet ground to be there, sailing in conditions that are often very extreme and very cold. At the end of the day when they are hosing themselves off in the parking lot there is a smile on their face! Anyone looking for One Design sailing at its best should check it out.

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